On the Cultural Achievements of Negroes

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First published in French in 1808 and translated into English two years later under the title An Enquiry Concerning the Intellectual and Moral Faculties, and Literature of the Negroes, this book was a touchstone for nineteenth-century abolitionists in England and the United States. Written by Abbe Henri Gregoire (1750-1831), it argued vigorously against assumptions of black inferiority and in favor of the humanity, equality, and cultural achievements of people of African heritage. His treatise summarized most of the available written thought on race up to that time. A leading activist in the French Revolution, Gregoire reflected in his arguments the spirit of "libertie, egalite, and fraternite" and anticipated twentieth-century race inquiry and theory. Although influential in its time, the first translation of Gregoire's work was incomplete and flawed. This new edition presents a fresh, accurate, and complete text of this key document in the history of Western racial thought. The book includes a substantial biography of Gregoire and analysis of the historical context in which he wrote and the impact of his work.

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